Winter Blues + Lemon Ladies Giveaway

What a strange winter we’re having. It’s snowed only twice. I mean, actual accumulation on the ground snow – not wintry mix quasi flurries freezing rain stuff. Twice. Once during Snowtober, once last week. Its a running joke that I have reverse seasonal affective disorder – but not in 2012. I’m just as cranky as the rest of you this year.

Cranky for a bunch of reasons, but also cranky because of my pantry. It’s the same old story – too much jam. Too many pickles. Not enough other stuff. Typical, but still frustrating. Luckily, I stashed away some fruit in the chest freezer. (It even survived Irene!) I’m even luckier, as I have the California secret weapon to eliminate all winter crankiness. Its guaranteed to cure what ails ya this time of year. I dare you to breathe in the scent of fresh-picked meyer lemons and not feel instant relief from the winter blues.

I was introduced to Karen’s fabulous lemons last year, and I am as hooked as ever. Before I order this year’s batch, I’ve promised myself to finish last year’s. That’s right – lemons I ordered a year ago – preserved in salt and spices since last February. Smoked paprika, cayenne, sugar, cinnamon, salt, peppercorn and bay leaf have worked their magic and transformed the meyers into something completely different. These lemons are my favorite use from last year – they bring an an amazing amount of flavor. Blueberries and lemon are one of those epic combinations – and this compote is no different. Best served over ice cream or yogurt, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Winter Blues Compote
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
Rind of one whole preserved lemon (4 quarters) chopped fine
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients over medium-low heat. Cook until it reaches desired consistency – but be careful – blueberries will set up quickly. If you’re feeling impatient (ahem) mash the blueberries to speed up the process. Remove cinnamon to serve. This will keep well in the fridge, though I am equally sure it would transition well as a shelf-stable recipe with the addition of a little lemon juice.

To help cure your winter blues, Lemon Ladies Orchard has offered a meyer lemon gift bag to one SK reader. Let me know how you beat winter crankiness – leave a comment with a valid email address below to enter. Giveaway will end at 11:59pm on Saturday February 4.

Back to the Roots + Giveaway

I have about ten square feet of gardening space. It happens to be next to my pool, hence the need for containers. For everything. Because of the pervasive shade, we don’t get much sunlight in our windows either. Enough for  filtered light, sure – enough to grow? Questionable.

One thing we can grow though – shrooms. They love shade! If we were to stay here long term, I would think about getting plugs and making a mushroom garden. It seems easy enough – get a few logs, do some inoculating, wait a while, ta-da mushrooms. Of course its more complicated than that, but they seem to do fairly well if you ignore them. My kind of garden.

Maybe someday. Until then? Its Back to the Roots. Have you heard of them? They’re everywhere these days. Not only do they encourage urban food production, they partner with Peet’s Coffee to make a sustainable, eco-friendly product out of coffee grounds that would otherwise go to waste. What’s not to like?

It was a super easy process, too. Day 1: Soak the bag. Day 2: Cut open the bag, keep it moist by misting 1-2 times per day and wait. Here’s how things progress:

Day 5: Finally something to show for daily misting.

Day 6: Things move fast from here.

Day 7: Almost there.

Day 8: Harvest time.

What can you do with fresh mushrooms? What can’t you do with fresh mushrooms? My first batch went into risotto. The next one was dry roasted with garlic – used as a pizza topping and a tapa. Roasted mushrooms + garlic + thyme + lots of extra virgin Spanish olive oil + grilled bread = amazing. You should try it.

Oh, you can. Just leave a comment here telling me about your favorite way to shroom. I know I really need to get around to pickling some. Entries to close Friday August 26th at 11:59pm eastern time.

Disclaimer: I was the lucky winner of a BTTR kit from Eating Rules. They did not sponsor this post. All the words are my own. I am giving away a mushroom kit out of my own budget.

Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Jam + Giveaway

So there’s something absolutely magical about the first quart of local summer strawberries around these parts. Actually, there’s something really magical about the second quart – the first quart rarely makes it home. Joel gets it. Strawberries are a fleeting thing in the Northeast – before you know it they’re gone. In fact, I completely missed them last year due to that pesky rite of passage for new lawyers (ahem, the bar exam). So this year, I knew I had to do it up.

After a strawberry deluge last week (51 jam-ready pints!) I got more from my CSA this week. The perfect pairing with some of the world's greatest wood fired chocolate chip cookies.

Obviously, some had to go into jam. A simple strawberry jam is what I was after. You know the one – strawberries, sugar, some lemon and a little pectin to make it set – thats it. The kind that takes you right back to early summer in the middle of the winter, or whenever you happen to pop open the jar. I set that second quart to macerate with the typical double berries to sugar ratio. Almost everything went according to plan – even with a new kind of pectin. It set beautifully. It even looked like Martha Stewart made it. Except… the sweetness. It was way, WAY over the top. I dont know if I spaced when macerating (it happens) or the berries just were that ripe (also possible) but it was just too much. A huge wave of guilt came when I thought about ruining that precious quart.

What’s that – necessity is the mother of invention? Apparently. I had all the ingredients of Kaela’s (er, Tai’s) Rhubarb Ginger Jam ready to go. Back into the dutch oven went the cavity-inducing strawberry batch, with an almost equal amount of rhubarb and candied ginger. For extra punch, I added in a tablespoon(ish) of powdered ginger, to ensure the jam would even up.

I’m really happy with how the jam turned out. Its still sweet, but nicely warming from the ginger. Due to its creation, though – I can’t really share a recipe – there isn’t one! I’m sure you would end up with an equally tasty version by adding some ginger to your standard strawberry rhubarb recipe. As always, if you want to put it up, add 220° jam into hot jars, top with hot, wet lids, and process for 10 minutes. [If you need a review, please buy the Ball Blue Book and check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation.] As always, you can just turn it into a fridge jam – the best way to experiment in small batches.

If you’re not a huge ginger lover like me, I would only add a bit of candied ginger to taste. And dont worry – there are plenty of simpler strawberry recipes to come. If you are a ginger lover, though, I can’t recommend this jam enough. In fact, I’m so happy with it that I’ll even send a half pint to one lucky SK reader in the US or Canada. Just leave a comment here telling me about your favorite way to use/inhale/preserve seasonal strawberries. Need inspiration? Check out last night’s #punkberry discussion started by Sean at Punk Domestics. Entries to close Sunday June 26th at 11:59pm eastern time.

Giveaway! From the Lemon Ladies Orchard

So in case you missed it, I have a Meyer Lemon problem. Specifically, I have a Lemon Ladies Meyer Lemon problem. I just can’t get enough of the sweet and sour flavor. The scent of them is almost floral. Its addictive. In case you missed it, I took seven pounds of lemons and made them into Raspberry Lemon Preserves, Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Preserved Lemons and Limoncello. I made Meyer Lemon Curd, Kiwi Meyer Lemon Jam and an absolutely amazing Lazy Lemon Tart and froze some of the juice for later lemon cravings. I even shipped some of Karen’s lemons to Anchorage, Alaska so I could share them with friends.

They should come with a warning label, they are so addictive.

It’s safe to say I am Meyer obsessed. I had to get some more lemons – I still haven’t made Meyer Lemon Salt for this summer’s catch or Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken. I’m still coveting Nicole’s Lemon Pull-Apart Loaf at Arctic Garden Studio. And I must dehydrate Meyer slices to savor the flavor for as long as possible.

Have I linked you to death yet? Well I’m glad you survived the onslaught – there’s a reward. Karen at the Lemon Ladies Orchard has graciously offered to send one lucky SK reader a Meyer Lemon Gift Bag. They come from her own trees in sunny Emerald Hills, California. If the fruit wasn’t a good enough reason to check her out, the story behind the orchard is pretty amazing too. This means she will pick a dozen beautiful lemons and send them direct to your door! How can you say no?

How to Enter:
1. Post a comment here and tell me what you’re going to do with your meyers. What’s your favorite tried and true recipe? Or are you going to try something new?
2. Earn an additional entry by liking Snowflake Kitchen on Facebook. Leave a comment here to let me know you did.
3. Earn an additional entry by liking the Lemon Ladies page on Facebook. Again, post here to let me know you did.
4. Tweet about it: “Check out the Meyer Lemon Giveaway going on at @snowflakekitchn! http://is.gd/xjbV78” then post back here with the link!

Even if you dont win, the Meyer Lemon season in California is almost done – place your Lemon Ladies order soon! And this giveaway ends on Monday April 25 at 11:59pm EST!


UPDATE:

Congrats to Jeanne in Toledo the winner! Please check your email. Thanks to everyone who entered – stay tuned for more giveaways! -Kate